Homeless: Barnet UNISON quest to find an office

Dear Members

Since the formation of Barnet Council in 1965 there has always been an office for our members to visit and meet with their reps first when it was NALGO and now Barnet UNISON.

Barnet UNISON has moved a few times over the last decades. We were based in an old mortuary in Hendon until the Council moved services “lock, stock and barrel” to North London Business Park (NLBP).

We remained in NLBP until the Council began its new accommodation strategy.

We were moved to Barnet House and we are still here.

It is really important for our members that they have access to their trade union.

Currently we have large numbers of members at Oakleigh Road depot, NLBP, Colindale.

Over the last 12 months we have been in discussions with the Council to find suitable accommodation that is accessible and provides confidentiality.

Why are we not at Colindale?

The set up in Colindale is open plan and the Council were unable to secure an enclosed office where we could meet, greet and discuss issues with our members. It is important that members are able to access Barnet UNISON without others knowing.

Subsequently we have been looking at some other properties. Originally we were going to return to Building 2 NLBP for a limited amount of time but that has not materialised.

Time is running out.

At the moment we are still in Barnet House because the building is still open for Housing Needs service which has not moved to Colindale. At some point Barnet House will be closed and we will be out on the streets hence the need to find something suitable.

We are still hoping to find a solution with the Council but we need to be prepared for potentially being homeless.

How you can help?

We are calling on all members to keep a look out for anywhere they think might be suitable for a Barnet UNISON office.

It’s important that members understand that the branch does not have funding for an office and therefore any costs would have to be taken out of our existing budget. This is a real concern because we have a large and diverse membership and we struggle to live within our budget each year. We will of course be contacting our union to ask if they are able to provide extra funding for accommodation and we will report back to our members the outcome of that request.

 

Important Announcement: John Burgess Branch Secretary

Important Announcement: John Burgess Branch Secretary

Dear Members

Our Branch Secretary John Burgess is currently off sick and at this time we are unable to say when he will return.
The reason for this announcement is to alert members that our resources are reduced at this time as we do not have any resources to cover his absence.
We are working hard to prepare a plan by which we can ensure that are still able to support all of our members regardless of their employer.
If you are in need of support please make sure you ring the branch on 0208 359 2088 or email contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

We are asking all of our reps to call into the office is you feel able to offer some support to the branch.

I am sure all of our members would want to wish John a speedy recovery.

The Branch Meeting on 4th September at 12.30pm in Colindale Conference Suite 1, will still be taking place. 

Thanks,

Helen Davies
Branch Chair
Barnet UNISON

Is your Pension correct? Get your FREE Health Check

There has been a serious catalogue of failure by Capita in regards to the Administration of Barnet Council Pension Scheme. The Pensions Regulator has recently issued another warning over the performance of Capita.

This is why Barnet UNISON is offering a FREE Pension Health check for all members who are in Barnet Council Pension Scheme.

Important Update

All members of the Pension Scheme should be receiving in the post their 2019 Annual Benefit Statement in early September 2019.

When you have received yours and would like to understand it better or wish to have it checked then please contact the Barnet UNISON office for a 1-1 meeting by e-mail to contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

If by 1 October 2019 you have not received your 2019 Annual Benefit Statement please contact Barnet UNISON office on 0208 359 2088 or e-mail contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

Barnet UNISON Update: Yes it’s Capita and Yes it’s another Pensions Fail.  

 

“The Pensions Regulator has issued a draft improvement notice to the London Borough of Barnet to tackle deficiencies in the pension fund’s administration processes and controls.”

“Meanwhile, a recent internal audit report has identified a number of “high risk-rated issues” in relation to the scheme’s administration, which is outsourced to Capita.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/TPR-still-unhappy-with-pensions-admin-at-Barnet

The above are extracts from an article by Pensions Expert Sophia Imeson | July 15, 2019 “TPR still unhappy with pensions admin at Barnet”.

“It’s becoming a full-time job just keeping track of the relentless number of issues arising from poor performance of the Capita Pension Administration service. The question our members keep asking is “how many times does Capita have to fail before the service is taken off Capita and brought back in-house?” Whilst Barnet UNISON I welcomes the news that the Leader of Barnet Council wants to “get things right” where Barnet UNISON differs is why the reluctance to simply end the contract? Barnet UNISON has sat in too many committee meetings where councillors have heard the following: “Capita has put together a plan.”

It is too late for any plan. It is patently obvious there are some pretty fundamental problems with the Capita Pensions Administration Service which is why in July 2019 “internal audit report has recently flagged up a “limited assurance” level for the scheme’s design and effectiveness of controls in place.”

The latest news is that The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has issued a draft improvement notice to Barnet Council should be the final straw.

What should Barnet Council do next?

Barnet Council needs to seriously think about what it does next. The reason Barnet UNISON says this is because to run an efficient Pension Administration Service you need to ensure the HR and Payroll are working effectively as this can also have a serious impact on Pension Administration.

The problem Barnet UNISON can see is the Council knee jerk reaction due to understandable pressure to act could end in the Council simply moving to another HR provider.

This act fails to assess the impact of Payroll issues on Pensions Administration service.

For some reason, when Capita bid to take over our services in 2012, they proposed to split the in-house Payroll service by running payroll services out of Belfast and Carlisle.

It would be an understatement to say that there have been issues with Payroll.

If Barnet Council simply switch provider, fast forward six months’ time and councillors could be sitting in a committee meeting listening to LBB HR, Capita (Payroll) and Pensions (new provider) all arguing who is responsible for service issues.

Barnet UNISON has consistently taken the same approach to these endemic failures.

Barnet Council needs to bring back and rebuild the Payroll and Pension Administration services to work alongside the recently returned HR service.

Only then does Barnet UNISON believe that the Pension Administration service can return to the high standards it provided before the outsourcing to Capita”

End.

Background reading of previous reports on Capita Pensions in Barnet

  1. TPR still unhappy with pensions admin at Barnet

By Sophia Imeson | July 15, 2019

“The Pensions Regulator has issued a draft improvement notice to the London Borough of Barnet to tackle deficiencies in the pension fund’s administration processes and controls…..”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/TPR-still-unhappy-with-pensions-admin-at-Barnet

  1. Light at end of tunnel in Barnet admin fiasco

By Stephanie Hawthorne | May 23, 2019

“The problem was once so serious that Hymans Robertson, the actuary to the scheme, was commissioned by Barnet council to investigate the quality of the pensions data, and it was feared that inaccuracies could lead to a delay carrying out the triennial valuation later this year.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Light-at-end-of-tunnel-in-Barnet-admin-fiasco

  1. Ongoing data problems spark valuation concerns at Barnet

Sophia Imeson | March 28, 2019

“In 2017, the Pensions Regulator said it had fined the Local Government Pension Scheme fund £1,000 for failing to submit its 2016 scheme return on time.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Ongoing-data-problems-spark-valuation-concerns-at-Barnet?ct=true

  1. Barnet in TPR breach as Capita misses payments

Alex Janiaud | October 22, 2018

“The London Borough of Barnet Council has reported itself to the Pensions Regulator after failing to produce 447 pension benefit statements on time.”

“A spokesperson for the regulator confirmed that it was “in contact with those responsible for the governance and administration of the scheme”.

The spokesperson said: “We expect all those responsible for the governance and administration of a scheme to ensure appropriate internal controls are in place to ensure that non-compliant employers fulfil their responsibilities to that scheme.”

http://www.pensions-expert.com/DB-Derisking/Barnet-in-TPR-breach-as-Capita-misses-payments

The causes of Climate Change are a trade union workplace issue.

Barnet UNISON branch thinks it’s important to bridge the gap between the call for #ClimateChangeStrike #20Sept and how the causes of #ClimateChange are directly impacting on the health and wellbeing of our members.

Trade Unions have a long history of taking up health and safety issues on behalf of their members.

It’s important that the campaign to deal with #ClimateChange doesn’t treat it as an abstract issue that affects someone else.

The causes of #ClimateChange are real and are already having an effect in workplaces all over the world.

Our branch has already begun discussions with Barnet Council about air pollution and we are due to meet later this month.

In the meantime we are beginning conversations with our members via leaflets, online videos which we are posting on our social media sites and in our weekly eNews communication.

Here are two very simple but effective videos made by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

What does Air Pollution PM 2.5 do inside children’s body and brain?

https://youtu.be/QcS3ovdsgNI

Breathe Life – How air pollution impacts your body” World Health Organisation (WHO)

https://youtu.be/GVBeY1jSG9Y

Earlier this month our branch executive passed a motion entitled:

End the causes of Climate Change – a Call for Urgent Action and Solidarity which you can read here:

http://www.barnetunison.me.uk/wp/2019/07/15/end-the-causes-of-climate-change-a-call-for-urgent-action-and-solidarity/

 

Please sign our End the causes of Climate Change Petition now 👇👇👇👇👇

https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-barnet-climate-change

End the causes of Climate Change – a Call for Urgent Action and Solidarity

This is an Emergency Please sign our Petition now

https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-barnet-climate-change

End the causes of Climate Change – a Call for Urgent Action and Solidarity  Motion.

Branch notes:

  • The Earth’s temperature has already risen by 1 degree above pre-industrial levels. The IPCC report last autumn warned that we only have 12 years to keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees. Carbon emissions need to be cut by 45% by 2030, and reach zero carbon by 2050 in order to avoid a dangerous tipping point.
  • Air Pollution is the number one cause of deaths from environmental impacts resulting in the premature deaths of 40,000 citizens and an economic cost of £54 billion.
  • The UK Government has been taken to the European Court by Client Earth over its failure to act on illegal air pollution levels and the Government has lost its case which means it must now act.
  • A large number of our members work outdoors and are regularly exposed to air pollution.
  • The tremendous impact of the school students strikes in shifting government complacency over climate change forcing them to amend the 2008 Climate Change act.
  • Greta Thunberg’s call for a climate strike and for adults and workers to join the global school students strike on the 20th September which will begin a week of action on climate.
  • The solidarity strikes organised by trade unions in Belgium and France.

 Branch believes: 

  • Climate change is a trade union issue.
  • Our members have the right to work in a safe environment and for any associated risks to be mitigated.
  • Our Council needs to do more to protect our members in the face of the Climate Emergency.
  • More broadly the future of our planet is at risk if we don’t organise now to force governments’ to cut emissions in line with the IPCC report.
  • That taxing the very wealthy and closing tax loopholes in line with Labour Party manifesto commitments will meet the cost of cutting emissions by 50%.
  • That we must keep the pressure up. The school students have led the way but the trade union movement as a whole must now act to ensure that they don’t fight alone.

Branch resolves:

  • To commits the branch into entering urgent negotiations with Barnet Council and other employers in order to identify the following:
  • The risks to the health and wellbeing of workers regularly exposed to air pollution.
  • What measures/protection can be put in place to mitigate the hard of air pollution?
  • What health checks can be made available to workers regularly exposed to air pollution?
  • The branch contacts our union to ascertain any possible legal claims for injury at work as a result of regular expose to air pollution.
  • To back the call for a climate strike on 20 September
  • To support the call by the UCU for the TUC to organise a 30 minute workday solidarity stoppage to coincide with the global school student strike on the 20th
  • To call upon our national executive to support the UCU’s motion at this year’s TUC congress calling for a 30 minute workday stoppage.
  • For our branch to argue for and call a stoppage on the 20th September and for our branch to campaign for the maximum possible show of solidarity with school students 20th
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